Electrical bias-induced phase transitions underpin a wide range of applications from data storage to energy generation and conversion. The mechanisms behind these transitions are often quite complex and in many cases are extremely sensitive to local defects that act as centers for local transformations or pinning. Using ferroelectrics as an example, we review methods for probing bias-induced phase transitions and discuss the current limitations and challenges for extending the methods to field-induced phase transitions and electrochemical reactions in energy storage, biological and molecular systems.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70235-9